SETUP [Single ended triode Users' of the Philippines] listening rooms
Let's take a look at Joel's system. It is a small room and I forgot to bring a wide angle lens, so here's a cropped view from the listening position. Those monoblocks at the bottom of the shelf are SE2A3 [monoplate] amps with Tamura F7001 permalloy OPTs. Barely visible towards the top left is his Garrard 301 [oil bearing] with an Ikeda 12" arm. Depending on his mood, you may find him alternating between an SPU-GME, Ikeda, Shelter or Denon 103R.
Now let's take a closer look at his Altec 414s on OBs with an Altec 511 horn mounted precariously on top. Attached to the back of this horn is an Altec 902, yes it's ceramic but it has original aluminum diaphraghms and you won't miss the alnico sound unless you compare them head to head.
This is really a nice sounding system. He built/tweaked his own crossover and L-pad to match the levels between the horn and woofer. Incidentally, that's William's SE245 which was being serviced by Joel at the time.
Joel's got really good ears and gifted with a nice singing voice, aside from the fact that when he is "in the right mood" he can really build very nice amps.
Time to move on to another listening room. This is Nonong's system. Yes, it is a pair of Altec 755As in open baffles, perhaps the only existing ones in Manila. Someday he dreams of owning a pair of WE/Altec 756s [10"] with 3000A tweeters.
He also uses a Garrard 301 with an Ikeda 12" arm wherein an SPU Meister takes duty to the grooves. This is hooked to a pair of Tango MCT999 step-up devices which is routed into an RCA based phono preamp using 5691s and a linestage with 76s driving the NP216Ns. Here is a picture of the main chassis [power supply not shown] and a close up of his equipment rack, at the bottom is a pair of SE WE205D amps with Tamura F7005 permalloy OPTs. which replaced a pair of SE2A3 amps with NY15S OPTs. His back up amplifier is an SRPP 45 with Tamura F475 which is on the shelf between the preamp and right channel amp.
Do you want to see a high end dream system? Click here. When I visited William 5 years ago, he had equipment that would turn a reviewer for any of the high-end rags green with envy. Wilson Grand SLAMM, VPI TNT, Air Tangent, CAT-SL1, Kondo's PSE300B Kegon, HPs cartridge of the month, connected with cables using "controlled substances" or "classified materials".
However his taste and listening habits quickly evolved to a system centered on Tannoy Westminsters [now sitting sadly behind] and subsequently, a set-up based on RCA LC1s [early version without the cones] housed in walnut veneered "furnace style" cabinets [aged to perfection] that were originally intended as monitors made for executive suites at RCA.
High-end dealers may think it's a major step down to use a Garrard 301 with an Ikeda 12" arm from his previous front end or tracing grooves with an Ortofon SPU instead of a Lyra. Well, William took his business elsewhere..... purchasing more records!
It can also be argued that the mixture of Kondo's creations [M10 preamp, PSE300B Kegon and and PSE2A3 Kageki] with my designs, serve as "tone controls". But then William is a music lover and his LP collection include not only LSC "shaded dogs" or Mecury SRs, but also mono LPs acquired purely on musical merits. One can see in this closer view that he chooses components to enjoy his music!
These friends of mine at SETUP have been prolific in building amplifiers. Here is a picture they sent me recently of three pairs of mono block amplifiers. The front pair is set-up with WE300Bs, Tango choke and Tango NY15s OPTs with a 76-DC-6SN7 input/driver circuit, the middle pair also has WE300Bs but uses Tamura F5002 Amorphous core OPTs and matching choke with a 327-DC-6SN7 input/driver circuit, while the back pair sports RCA/Cunningham 2A3 monoplates with Tamura F7001 permalloys and matching choke with a 76-DC-6SN7 front end. All three pairs were built using The chassis, universal power transformers and polypropylene in oil PS caps from Angela Instruments.
Let's fly back to the USA, particularly the SETUP branch in NYC. This is Ding's system, a pair of Altec 604-8Gs on OBs with his SE300B in the middle. His simple 45 amp is currently in his basement doing duty to a pair of Altec Valencias he is presently tweaking.
On the left hand side of the listening room is the equipment shelf. From the top center is a Fisher 200B FM tuner, TD124/RB300, Kenwood CD player, JE Labs Preamp [external PS is beside the Linn LP12/Black Widow], Nakamichi BX100 and a Sansui PP 6550 amp.
Most of the time, he listens to CDs and has this top of the line [15 years ago, folks] Kenwood that he's tweaked out to submission. However, when I'm in his house he is obligated to spin his Thorens TD124/Rega RB300/Denon 103S and Audio Interface MC step-up. You've seen details of his preamp and amps in the preceding pages so I need not rehash on that.
One thing I love about this guy is that he is so level headed about audio. Enjoying music is first and foremost. It's not typical to meet people in this hobby who will never engage a conversation on, "what is the best circuit, capacitor, output transformer or anything like that......" Obviously, he has no inclination towards audio neurosis.
He keeps me on the level and many times, has been my worst critic when I come up with a new idea or design.